Saturday, October 26, 2013

Neon nerves

An international team of scientists has just visualized the central nervous system of the earliest animal yet, a 520-million-year-old Alalcomenaeus found in China. Using a CT scanner and 3D software, they were able to illuminate enough detail in the fossil (IMAGE ABOVE) to determine that the claw-like appendage that grew from its head, used for grasping and holding, evolved into the mouthparts of the spider. Spiders and scorpions both branched off from this group of megacheirans in the Cambrian period. "People like myself who are mad keen on creepy crawlies want to understand how very strange early arthropods relate to living ones," explains Greg Edgecombe of the Natural History Museum in London.

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